I love exploring London on foot. For me the city’s beauty lies in its details, and there’s no better way to see them than by walking. I know many of you feel the same, so over the next two weeks I want to share my 3 favorite London walks with you. I’ll start with a self-guided walk in Hampstead and continue with walks in Kensington and Notting Hill.
Hampstead is London’s secret village. Up a hill outside the city center, the neighborhood is full of narrow lanes and hidden steps. Known for its literary heritage—everyone from Robert Louis Stevenson to John Keats has called this area home—locals love it for the details that add charm to the streets.
My favorite places in Hampstead are the roads around Well Walk. This street leads from Hampstead High Street to Hampstead Heath, one of the biggest and wildest parks in London. Lots of lanes and alleys radiate from it, many of which reveal beautiful houses, lush gardens, and local pubs. But really every street in the neighborhood is worth a wander, as you’ll see when you start exploring.
Self-Guided Walk in Hampstead
This self-guided walk in Hampstead will take you through the best of the neighborhood’s back streets and lanes. There are plenty of cafes, pubs, and restaurants along the way, so you can stop and take in the village atmosphere if you need a rest.
Start your walk at Hampstead tube station. Turn right when you exit the station, heading up Heath Street as you go. After passing the shops and restaurants, turn right into Hampstead Square. This little corner of the village is home to the neighborhood’s signature houses and gardens.
Follow the street around until it becomes Elm Row, then immediately turn left down the little passage that leads to New End. Locals will tell you that the cobblestones in this alley were placed at an angle so horses could walk up without slipping backwards.
Once on New End, turn left and continue to into New End Square. Like Hampstead Square, this part of the village is full of lovely houses. On your left you’ll also notice Burgh House, which is home to the Hampstead Museum.
Pop into the museum for a visit, or continue down to Flask Walk and turn right. This is one of Hampstead’s most famous streets, not least because of its colorful doors and picturesque homes. Walk down Flask Walk until you reach Hampstead High Street. Leave some time for browsing in the shops and cafes along the pedestrianized stretch of the street as you go.
Once at the high street, retrace your steps to Back Lane and turn left to walk up the street. The colorful houses here are worth a photo.
At the top of Back Lane, turn right into the little passage that is Streatley Place. Go down the steps and along the lane, peeking into Mansfield Place, a skinny alley overgrown with garden greens. It’s magical.
Continue your self-guided walk in Hampstead down Streatley Place, turning right as it curves around to meet New End. Turn right on Boades Mews and walk back down to Flask Walk, turning left when you get there.
Once back at the corner where Burgh House is, continue down Well Walk in front of Burgh House and past The Wells pub. Peek your head into Gainsborough Gardens on your right to see the lovely circle of homes, then continue on Well Walk until you reach Hampstead Heath.
Take a stroll in the heath if you want to soak up some greenery, or turn right to walk down East Heath Road. This will still give you a taste of the heath even if you don’t go further into it.
Once at Keats Grove, turn right. On the left you’ll pass Keats House, where poet John Keats once lived. You can go in for a visit if you’d like. When Keats Grove meets Downshire Hill, turn left and follow the road to Rosslyn Hill.
Turn right on Rosslyn Hill, then cross the street and take your first left on Shepherds Walk. Once you pass the post office, continue down Spring Path, the tiny alley on your left. This secret passageway will take you through to Fitzjohn’s Avenue.
Turn right to walk up Fitzjohn’s, as the locals call it, then cross the street and turn left on Prince Arthur Road. When you come to Ellerdale Road, turn right and follow it back around to Fitzjohn’s. This worthwhile detour will take you by more architecturally pleasing sights, and if you look closely enough you may spot some impressive sculptures in the gardens.
Back on Fitzjohn’s, turn left to go up the hill, then cross the street and turn right on Perrin’s Court. If you like antiques, don’t miss the maze of shops at Hampstead Antique & Craft Emporium just beyond the entrance. If not, there are lots of little shops and cafes on the pedestrianized court, so it’s a good place to stop for a rest.
Once Perrin’s Court meets Hampstead High Street, turn left and then left again, walking down Oriel Place to see more of the neighborhood’s shops and pubs. When Oriel Place meets Heath Street, turn left, cross the street, and take your first right on Church Row.
Church Row has some of the best-preserved Georgian houses in London, and a great view of the 18th-century Hampstead Parish Church at the end. Walk down to the church, then turn right after the cemetery—which is photogenic in its own right—on Holly Walk.
Admire the houses and gravestones along Holly Walk—everyone from painter John Constable to writer George Du Maurier is interred here (and in the churchyard). Don’t miss the diminutive St Mary Roman Catholic Church on your right after the cemetery, either.
After the church a series of colorful doors will lead you up the hill to Mount Vernon, where you can turn right and follow the road around. Make sure to look out for the Robert Louis Stevenson plaque on your right as you go.
When Mount Vernon meets Frognal Rise, turn left and then veer right onto Windmill Hill. This pretty street winds its way up to Admiral’s Walk, where you can turn right to find the quirky Admiral’s House.
At the end of Admiral’s Walk, turn right on Hampstead Grove, another street with picture-pretty homes. When the street meets Holly Bush Hill, you’ll see Fenton House on your right. This museum is a National Trust property featuring a beautiful 17th-century merchant’s house with a walled garden.
Visit the museum if you’d like, then continue down to Holly Bush Hill and take your first left onto Holly Mount. Here you’ll find another of Hampstead’s most beloved streets, along with its most famous pub, The Holly Bush.
Pop in for a pint, or just a peek at the warren of wooden rooms, then continue on Holly Mount, following it around as it becomes a footpath at the end.
Soon you’ll find yourself back on Heath Street, where you can turn right, cross the street, and end your walk at Hampstead tube station.
Time: 2 hours
Map of the first half of the walk: https://goo.gl/maps/aJXyazYbta62
Map of the second half of the walk: https://goo.gl/maps/D6rBznQ1T8G2
Further afield: Pergola Garden, Hampstead Heath
You can read about more lovely walks in London’s Hidden Walks. If you’re in the UK, get it here. If you’re in the US, get it here.
Have you done a self-guided walk in Hampstead? What were the highlights?
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